Category Archives: Wildlife

New threat to Pacific humpback whales?

Jumping_Humpback_whale

Once hunted to near extinction, the humpback whales of Canada’s Pacific are back in larger numbers and their status has been downgraded from “threatened” to one “of special concern”.

However, this BBC report shows how there are now concerns that the whales face new risks from increased oil and natural gas exploration.

BBC News – New threat to Canadas Pacific humpback whales?.

Sunday Photo Magazine — 11/30/2014

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‘Divide and rule’—raven politics

World of Birds

 Cognitive biologists now revealed that ravens use a "divide and rule" strategy in dealing with the bonds of conspecifics. Credit: Jorg Massen Cognitive biologists now revealed that ravens use a “divide and rule” strategy in dealing with the bonds of conspecifics. Credit: Jorg Massen

Mythology has attributed many supernatural features to ravens. Studies on the cognitive abilities of ravens have indeed revealed that they are exceptionally intelligent. Ravens live in complex social groups and they can gain power by building social bonds that function as alliances. Cognitive biologists of the University of Vienna now revealed that ravens use a ‘divide and rule’ strategy in dealing with the bonds of conspecifics: Socially well integrated ravens prevent others from building new alliances by breaking up their bonding attempts.

Thomas Bugnyar and his team have been studying the behavior of approximately 300 wild ravens in the Northern Austrian Alps for years. They observed that ravens slowly build alliances through affiliative interactions such as grooming and playing. However, they also observed that these affiliative interactions were…

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Eurobirdwatch 2014 sees 2.5 million migrating birds

Dear Kitty. Some blog

This video is about bird migration.

From BirdLife:

Eurobirdwatch 2014 sees 2.5 million migrants in the air

By Elodie Cantaloube, Mon, 20/10/2014 – 08:18

On the weekend 4–5 October, over 23,000 people took part in the most exciting nature event of the autumn: the annual Eurobirdwatch. From Portugal to Kazakhstan, from Malta to Norway, BirdLife Partners invited people of all ages to discover and observe the fascinating migration of birds. The result of these two days of fun, exchange and learning was the observation of over 2.5 million birds as they migrated to southern countries in search of suitable wintering grounds.

In autumn, some species of birds, the so-called migratory birds, leave the north, where they breed in spring and summer and head to their wintering grounds in the south. The migration of several thousands of birds of different species is a unique spectacle; the BirdLife…

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Global wildlife halved in 40 years, reveals WWF

lion_1_19451

Pic: WWF

Global wildlife populations have halved in just 40 years, according to new research by scientists at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

Creatures across land, rivers and the seas are being decimated as humans kill them for food in unsustainable numbers, while polluting or destroying their habitats, the WWF’s Living Planet Report 2014 found.

The key findings are:

  • Populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish have declined by an average of 52% since the 1970s.
  • Freshwater species populations have suffered a 76% decline, an average loss almost double that of land and marine species.
  • The worst declines have been observed in the Tropics.

The report draws upon the Living Planet Index, a database maintained by the Zoological Society of London, which monitors trends in over 10,000 populations of 3038 species since the 1970s. It also looks at how human consumption levels have increased in the same time period. It shows that the biggest recorded threat to biodiversity comes from the combined impacts of habitat loss and degradation, driven by unsustainable human consumption.

“If half the animals died in London zoo next week it would be front page news,” said Professor Ken Norris, ZSL’s director of science. “But that is happening in the great outdoors. This damage is not inevitable but a consequence of the way we choose to live.” He said nature, which provides food and clean water and air, was essential for human wellbeing.

“We have lost one half of the animal population and knowing this is driven by human consumption, this is clearly a call to arms and we must act now,” said Mike Barratt, director of science and policy at WWF. He said more of the Earth must be protected from development and deforestation, while food and energy had to be produced sustainably.

New book celebrates 50 years of wildlife photos

Cherry Alexander/NHM

Pic: Cherry Alexander/NHM

The Natural History Museum’s new book is a real treat. Entitled ’50 Years of Wildlife Photographer of the Year’, it features the most memorable pictures from 50 years of the prestigious competition, including this beautiful photo taken by Cherry Alexander of Antartica.

The book celebrates the art of wildlife photography by charting its development  from the first hand-held cameras and the colour film revolution of the 1960s, to the increasingly sophisticated photographs of wild animals and unexplored places taken today.

UK seabirds face triple threat

puffin_3

UK breeding seabirds are under threat from a triple whammy of extreme weather, predators and human disturbance, the National Trust has revealed.

The conservation organisation has carried out an extensive study of seabird sites along its 742 miles of coastline to evaluate the importance of National Trust locations for seabirds and to recognise the issues that impact breeding success.

The new report calls for more regular monitoring to help detect any changes in seabird colonies and a greater awareness of human impact on breeding populations.

The biggest potential threat to seabirds was found to be the effect of extreme weather, such as in Blakeney, Norfolk, this winter when the severe tidal surges forced more than half of the little terns to nest in low areas. The high tides that followed in mid-June caused the nests to flood, resulting in a very poor breeding season.

Little terns at Long Nanny in Northumberland were also under threat and National Trust rangers spent three months, between May and August, providing a 24 hour watch on the nesting birds by camping next to their breeding site.

Predators, such as rats, foxes and mink, were also identified as a problem at nearly all sites. The managed removal of predators is now a priority for the Trust and more regular monitoring will help to detect any issues early on.

The third most common risk to breeding success was found to be human disturbance by walkers and their pets. If nests are disturbed it can displace seabirds, leaving the young vulnerable to predators. However, even if they are not displaced, seabirds can become stressed when disturbed which can greatly impact their wellbeing.

The National Trust is therefore encouraging walkers and visitors to the coast to be aware of the potential impact of disturbing nesting seabirds during the breeding season. Dr David Bullock, Head of Nature Conservation at the National Trust, said: “Seabirds are part of what makes out coastline so special.

“Our emotional connection with these birds, along with what they tell us about the health of our seas, means that it is vital for us to look after the places where they nest.”